that if one rendered impure the ritually pure items of another and died before paying, the Sages did not penalize his son after his death and require him to pay for the damage. What is the reason for this? The reason is that damage that is not evident, i. e., which does not involve any visible change, is not considered damage by Torah law. There is a penalty imposed by rabbinic law, as the injured party suffered a loss, but the Sages penalized only him; the Sages did not penalize his son.
מתני׳ מעשה בזכר של רחלים זקן ושערו מדולדל וראהו קסטור אחד ואמר מה טיבו של זה אמרו לו בכור הוא ואינו נשחט אלא אם כן היה בו מום נטל פיגום וצרם אזנו ובא מעשה לפני חכמים והתירו ואחר שהתירו הלך וצירם באזני בכורות אחרים ואסרו
MISHNA: There was an incident involving an old ram whose hair was long and dangling, because it was a firstborn offering. And one Roman quaestor [kastor] saw it and said to its owner: What is the status [tivo] of this animal that you allowed it to grow old and you did not slaughter it? They said to him: It is a firstborn offering, and therefore it may be slaughtered only if it has a blemish. The quaestor took a dagger [pigom] and slit its ear. And the incident came before the Sages for a ruling, and they deemed its slaughter permitted. And after the Sages deemed its slaughter permitted, the quaestor went and slit the ears of other firstborn offerings, but in these cases the Sages deemed their slaughter prohibited, despite the fact that they were now blemished.
פעם אחת היו תינוקות משחקין בשדה וקשרו זנבי טלאים זה בזה ונפסקה זנבו של אחד מהם והרי הוא בכור ובא מעשה לפני חכמים והתירו ראו שהתירו הלכו וקשרו זנבות בכורות אחרים ואסרו זה הכלל כל שהוא לדעתו אסור שלא לדעתו מותר
One time children were playing in the field and they tied the tails of lambs to each other, and the tail of one of them was severed, and it was a firstborn offering. And the incident came before the Sages for a ruling and they deemed its slaughter permitted. The people who saw that they deemed its slaughter permitted went and tied the tails of other firstborn offerings, and the Sages deemed their slaughter prohibited. This is the principle: With regard to any blemish that is caused intentionally, the animal’s slaughter is prohibited; if the blemish is caused unintentionally, the animal’s slaughter is permitted.
גמ׳ פעם אחרת היה כו׳ וצריכא דאי אשמעינן גוי דלא אתי למיסרך אבל קטן דאתי למיסרך אימא לא
GEMARA: The mishna mentions that one time children were involved in a case in which they unintentionally blemished a firstborn offering whose subsequent slaughter the Sages deemed permitted. The Gemara notes: And although the first clause of the mishna mentions a similar occurrence, the incident involving the children is necessary. As, had the tanna taught us only the incident involving the gentile, it might have been thought that the Sages permitted the slaughter of the firstborn offering only there, as it is not a problem if the gentile will acquire the habit of causing blemishes, because that prohibition does not apply to gentiles. But with regard to a Jewish minor, it is a concern that he is likely to acquire the habit of causing blemishes in firstborn offerings, and therefore one might say that even the first, unintentional time should not be permitted.
ואי אשמועינן קטן משום דלא אתי לאיחלופי בגדול אבל גוי דאתי לאיחלופי בגדול אימא לא צריכא
And had the tanna taught us only the incident involving a minor, it might have been thought that the Sages deemed the firstborn offering permitted only there, since there is no concern that people will come to confuse a minor with an adult. People would not erroneously conclude that it is permitted to cause a blemish on a firstborn offering intentionally merely due to an incident involving a minor. But in the case of a gentile adult, where this is a concern that people would come to confuse him with a Jewish adult, one might say that even the first, unintentional time should not be permitted. It is therefore necessary for the mishna to teach both cases.
§ The Gemara analyzes the incident involving the Roman quaestor. Rav Ḥisda says that Rav Ketina says: They taught that the firstborn offering is permitted only in a case where the bystanders said to the quaestor: A firstborn offering may not be slaughtered unless it has a blemish, as this is referring to a blemish that develops naturally. But if they said to him that a firstborn offering may be slaughtered only if a blemish was caused to form upon it, which indicates human intervention, it is considered as though they explicitly told him: Go and cause a blemish on it, in which case the animal is prohibited.
אמר רבא מכדי ממילא הוא מה לי היה מה לי נעשה אלא נעשה נמי ממילא הוא ולא שנא
The Gemara cites a dissenting opinion. Rava said: Now consider, both expressions in fact indicate that the blemish occurred by itself, as both statements are in the passive. Accordingly, what difference is it to me whether the bystanders used the expression: If it had a blemish, or the expression: A blemish was caused in it? Rather, the expression: Was caused, also indicates that it occurred by itself, and there is no difference between the expressions. In both instances the firstborn offering would be permitted.
זה הכלל כל שהוא לדעת אסור לאיתויי מאי לאיתויי גרמא
The mishna teaches that this is the principle: In the case of any blemish that is caused with his intent, the animal’s slaughter is prohibited. The Gemara explains: What does this principle serve to add? It serves to add an indirect action, i. e., a blemish caused in this manner is also considered an intentional act and the animal may not be slaughtered on its account.
שלא לדעת לאיתויי מסיח לפי תומו
The Gemara further inquires: What is added by the phrase in the second part of the principle: If the blemish was caused without his intent, the animal’s slaughter is permitted? This serves to add an instance where a gentile did not inquire about the nature of the firstborn offering, but rather discovered it from one who speaks offhandedly. Although the gentile intentionally caused a blemish in the animal, since the Jew did not intentionally prompt him to cause it, the animal is permitted.
מתני׳ היה בכור רדפו בעטו ועשה בו מום הרי זה שוחטין עליו
MISHNA: If one’s firstborn offering was pursuing him, and he kicked the animal and caused a blemish in it, he may slaughter the animal on account of that blemish.
גמ׳ אמר רב פפא לא שנו אלא שבעטו בשעת רדיפה אבל לאחר רדיפה לא פשיטא
GEMARA: Rav Pappa says: They taught that the firstborn offering may be slaughtered only in an instance where he kicked it at the time of its pursuit. But if the individual kicked the animal after its pursuit, it may not be slaughtered, as he intended to cause a blemish in order to render it permitted to be slaughtered. The Gemara raises a difficulty: It is obvious that it is not permitted to slaughter the animal in such a case.
מהו דתימא צעריה הוא דמדכר קא משמע לן
The Gemara explains: Rav Pappa’s statement is necessary, lest you say that it is in fact permitted to slaughter the firstborn offering since he kicked it after its pursuit only out of anger, as he recalls his distress caused by its pursuit of him, and not in order to render the animal permitted to be slaughtered. Rav Pappa therefore teaches us that it is assumed that he kicked the animal with the express intention of causing a blemish in it, not merely out of anger, and therefore it may not be slaughtered.
איכא דאמרי אמר רב פפא לא תימא בשעת רדיפה אין אבל שלא בשעת רדיפה לא אלא אפילו לאחר רדיפה נמי מאי טעמא צעריה דמדכר
There are those who say the opposite version of this discussion. Rav Pappa says: Do not say that if the individual kicked the firstborn offering at the time of the pursuit, then yes, it is permitted to slaughter it, but if he kicked it not at the time of the pursuit, it is not permitted to slaughter it. Rather, even if he kicked it after its pursuit of him, it is also permitted. What is the reason? It is assumed that he kicked it after the pursuit not with the intention of causing a blemish, but because he recalls his distress caused by its pursuit of him.
§ Rav Yehuda says: It is permitted to cause a blemish in a firstborn fetus before it emerges into the air of the world, as it obtains its sacred status only when it is born. Applying this ruling, Rava said: In the case of a kid, it is practical to cause a blemish on its ear. Since a kid’s ears are long they emerge from the birth canal prior to the head. With regard to a lamb, whose ears are short and do not appear before the head, it is practical to cause a blemish only on its lip. There are those who say that there is a different version of this statement: In the case of a lamb as well, it is practical to cause a blemish on its ear, as one can say that it emerges from the birth canal through its temples, in which case its ears are visible first.
אמר רבא אכל ולא מיחזי פעי ומיחזי הוי מומא מאי קא משמע לן תנינא החוטין החיצונות שנפגמו ושנגממו הפנימיות שנעקרו מאי טעמא לאו משום דכי פעי מיחזי
Rava says: In a case where a firstborn has a blemish in its mouth, if, when it eats, the blemish is not visible, but when it opens its mouth wide and cries out, it is visible, this is considered a blemish, rendering the animal fit for slaughter. The Gemara asks: What is this teaching us? We learn this in the mishna (39a) with regard to blemishes that render a firstborn offering fit for slaughter: The external gums that were damaged and lacking or that were scratched, and likewise, the internal gums that were entirely extracted, are considered blemished. What is the reason that if the internal gums were extracted it is considered a blemish? Is it not because when the animal opens its mouth wide and cries out, it is visible? If so, what is the novelty of Rava’s statement?
Rav Pappa says in response: Rava is not in fact teaching a novel halakha. Rather, he is explaining the reason for the ruling of the mishna: What is the reason that if the internal gums were extracted it is considered a blemish? It is that when the animal opens its mouth wide and cries out, the blemish is visible.
MISHNA: With regard to all the blemishes that are capable of being brought about by a person, Israelite shepherds are deemed credible to testify that the blemishes were not caused intentionally. But priest-shepherds are not deemed credible, as they are the beneficiaries if the firstborn is blemished. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: A priest is deemed credible to testify about the firstborn of another, but is not deemed credible to testify about the firstborn belonging to him. Rabbi Meir says: A priest who is suspect about the matter of causing a blemish may neither adjudicate nor testify in cases involving that matter, even on behalf of another.
GEMARA: Rabbi Yoḥanan and Rabbi Elazar disagree with regard to the meaning of the mishna. One of them says that the case of Israelite shepherds is where the shepherds are in the house of priests, i. e., in the employ of a priest. These shepherds are deemed credible to testify that the blemishes were not caused intentionally, as we are not concerned they are lying for a swallow [lilegima] of the firstborn that their priest employer might give them in exchange.
רועי כהנים בי ישראל אין נאמנין מימר אמר כיון דקא טרחנא ביה לא שביק לדידי ויהיב לאחריני
And the case of priest-shepherds is where the shepherds are in the house of an Israelite, i. e., in the latter’s employ. In such a case, the priest-shepherds are not deemed credible to testify that the blemishes were not caused intentionally, as the priest-shepherd can say: Since I have toiled with this firstborn offering, my Israelite employer will not forsake me and give it to another priest. The priest is assumed to be lying, as he has a motive to cause a blemish in the animal.
והוא הדין כהן לכהן דחיישינן לגומלין
And the same is true in the case of a priest who testifies for the sake of another priest. Although the first priest would not derive benefit from his testimony immediately, he is nevertheless not deemed credible to testify, as we are concerned about reciprocal behavior, i. e., the other priest might later repay the favor and lie on his behalf.
And Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel comes to say that the testimony of a priest in such a case, when he testifies about the firstborn of another priest, is deemed credible, as there is no concern about reciprocal behavior. But he is not deemed credible with regard to his own firstborn. And Rabbi Meir comes to say that a priest, who is suspect about the matter of causing a blemish, may neither adjudicate nor testify in cases involving that matter, even on behalf of another. The difference between the opinion of Rabbi Meir and that of the first tanna will be discussed further on.
וחד אמר רועי ישראל והן כהנים נאמנין
The Gemara cites the other explanation of the mishna: And the other one of the two amora’im says: The case of Israelite shepherds is where the shepherds are priests in the employ of an Israelite. The mishna is teaching that these shepherds are deemed credible to testify that the blemishes on their employer’s firstborn offering were not caused intentionally, as they are not suspected of lying in order to obtain its meat.